Bolshoi Puppet Theatre, St. Petersburg
Director Ruslan Kudashov

This production by Ruslan Kudashov, a frequent participant of the Golden Mask Festival, is devised according to the aesthetics of a nightmare. What happens with the main character of the classical tale by Nikolay Gogol is seen through an indistinct shroud. Sometimes during the night you have a sensation of syncope, when you do not know whether you are awake or dreaming. The surrounding world seems to be populated with shaggy demons: you only need to be heedless for a moment and they will catch hold of your soul and turn it into a toy for themselves. Kudashov used Gogol’s plot to turn it into the ‘story of a fall’ – this is the genre attributed to the production. The set consists of a tumbledown ancient church with frescos, which are coming off walls and remind of Andrei Rublev. Sly imps appear through the holes in the walls. The main character is a victim of hallucination. Not only the main character, but even the audience feel a sepulchral chill. But where is Viy? That is the riddle for the spectators. A riddle you can solve by overcoming your fear and watching the performance till the end.

Kudashov turned Gogol’s story into a parable about how hard it is to go one’s own path without falling for any “devilry”, which is not part of hell, which is not part of Gogol’s fairy-tale about Little Russia, which is not part of the old little church with coffins flying around – but it is part of the here-and-now, part of every one of us.
Liudmila Filatova, Peterburgsky Teatralny Zhurnal

…One might mention a solid, almost tangible crimson fluorescence and blinding beams of light, electric noises, whispers, tapping and jingling sounds… Gleb Filshtinky and Vladimir Bychkovsky, who are well-known wizards of theatrical sound and lighting, have achieved such a degree of synthesis in their production of “Viy” that the fabric of the performance literally sprouts with music (the plank with tongues of flames, the walls with huge puppet hands of the witch), intertwining and turning into a single whole.
Anna Konstantinova, Peterburgsky Teatralny Zhurnal